National player Ian Lariba became the first ever Filipino to qualify in the Olympics since the sport was first played during the 1988 Summer Games in South Korea.
Lariba bagged the last Olympic slot in the women’s singles division during the 2016 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong.
The 22-year-old Lariba did not give up despite losing on her first try against Orawan Paranang of Thailand (6-11, 2-11, 4-11, 11-13) in Southeast Asia stage one bracket that sent her to Draw D in the stage two of the competition.
Lariba, who steered De La Salle University to UAAP crown, swept Indonesian Lilis Indriani, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8, 11-5, in the playoff for the last Olympic berth.
Lariba won the classification phase over Maha Faramarzi of Qatar, 11-5, 11-1, 11-7, 11-4, before subduing Mahjobeh Omran of Iran, 11-6, 15-13, 11-8, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8. She then lost to her Thai opponent before winning against her Indonesian foe to reach the last seat in the Olympics.
So far, there are five Rio-bound athletes namely Eric Cray (athletics), Rogen Ladon (boxing), Charly Suarez (boxing), Kirstie Elaine Alora (tae kwon do) and Lariba.